Wednesday 4 January 2023

Daimler Coaches - The Future is Electric

Daimler Buses has teamed up with research institutes and experts from the industry to form the Electrified Coach project (ELCH). The project is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

By the end of this decade, Daimler Buses intends to offer all-electric coaches with its Mercedes-Benz and Setra brands.

City buses with an all-electric drive, such as the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro, are now a familiar sight on the streets of many German and European cities. Electrically powered coaches are a different story. Their development is far more challenging, as there are many obstacles to overcome before the coaches can be deployed.

Requirements for long-range transport, flexibility in use, battery charging on the go, high payloads and the space required for passengers and luggage are indispensable and in part contradictory. 

The objective of the ELCH project is the development of a modular drivetrain and two emission-free and practical demonstration vehicles in the next four years. They will then be tested under real operating conditions.

Partners will take a holistic approach to the ELCH project. First, a modular drive system with a view to energy consumption, range, driving performance and battery service life will be examined in the concept phase in a pilot project. Synergies with components from the “Daimler Truck” truck division will be taken into account.

In the second step, factors such as overall costs, environmental impact and possible integration into existing operating concepts of bus/coach companies will be incorporated into the results. 
Based on the concept evaluation, two prototype drivetrains will then be developed and integrated into the demonstration vehicles. This will enable testing under real operating conditions.

The findings from the construction of the demonstration vehicles will form the basis for the planning of cost-effective production and assembly processes for electrically powered coaches. This, in combination with the modular product approach, will enable a fast production start-up.

Acceptance of the technology largely depends on its suitability in practice. This will be recorded systematically for the first time in the project and serve as a reference dimension for the design of the drivetrains. 
The installation space of the vehicles must correspond as far as possible to current diesel buses/coaches. In addition to their range, maintaining passenger capacity, including the additional payload for luggage, are an important prerequisite for the success of e-coaches. Beside the drivetrain and battery technology, project partners are playing an important role in aerodynamics and lightweight construction.

The profitability of the resulting vehicle concepts will also be assessed from the operator’s perspective and taken into account in the concept definition. The objective is to identify cost-efficient concepts for individual vehicles and entire fleets of electrically powered coaches for the various operating profiles.

Test drives on real customer cycles will also form the basis for the further development of the drivetrains up to series maturity.

Daimler Buses is the coordinator of the publicly funded project. Project partners are the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology KIT (ITIV – Institute for Information Technology); the University of Mannheim (MISES – Mannheim Institute for Sustainable Energy Studies); the Technical University of Kaiserslautern (iMAD – Institute for Mechanical and Automotive Design and SAM – Institute of Fluid Mechanics and Fluid Flow Machines) and operator Flix SE with its green Flix long-distance coaches.


Above Yutong are already ahead of the game with their range of electrically powered coaches. Ember run their Yutong TCE vehicles between Edinburgh and Dundee.